My hugs

I’m not a handshake kind of person. Ask anyone, I’m a hugger.

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Stick out your hand and I’m likely to grab hold of it and real you in. Not in a creepy way, though. I just love to hug.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

Rewind the tape to three years ago and you’d get quite a different greeting – a little more cold, a bit more formal and a lot more distance. I would smile and give an enthusiastic “hey!” but physical closeness, not so much.

I have a hard time picturing myself then, but my hollowness shunned the gentle presence of friends and family, preferring the warmth of sweaters to the soft squeeze of arms wrapped around each others’ backs.

One day when I was with my counselor, she sat down beside me and I could feel myself wanting to jump out of my skin, my gray, goose-bumped, icy skin. My stomach churned and my heart beat faster.

I wasn’t afraid or panicked, just undesirably uncomfortable. Given the kind gesture of embrace and I was ready to high tail it and sit on the other side of the room.

This was me? … Sadly, yes.

There was a time when it hurt to hug or think about hugging, a time when it made me nauseous to reach out to be held. It had been a long time since I had been held and I wasn’t sure I was worth holding. Memories of broken trust reared their ugly head and I let them push me into my shell. Lies told me I wasn’t loveable and so I didn’t want to get close with anyone, because I thought I could be strong on my own.

But alone is cold. Alone is bitter, helpless cold.

It wasn’t until I opened myself to the love of our Heavenly Father that I began to love myself and accept the love of others. While turning from doubt to prayer gave me promise and eating good foods gave me sustenance, hugs became a physical extension of Abba’s passionate delight for me, his daughter, whom He created in love and to be loved.

Which is why I am so eager to hug people now. In fact, after Friday Night Dinners, if someone heads to the door without us having a hug goodbye, I’ll run over to the them and make them come back. I want them to know I love because He loved us first. I see people as precious because they were made as His treasures. I hug because He is always there with arms open for embrace, an eternal embrace.

I’m never going back to the bitter cold island of alone, and I have my Father’s love and hugs to thank for it.

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For all my wanting, I don’t have anyone but You in heaven.
There is nothing on earth that I desire other than You.
26 I admit how broken I am in body and spirit,
but God is my strength, and He will be mine forever.

27 It will happen: whoever shuns You will be silenced forever;
You will bring an end to all who refuse to be true to You.
28 But the closer I am to You, my God, the better because life with You is good.
O Lord, the Eternal, You keep me safe—
I will tell everyone what You have done. Psalm 73:25-28, VOICE

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